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Free fireworks over Woodward Park on Sunday

Following USO Show & Memorial Weekend program, 21-gun salute

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POSTED May 22, 2009 3:08 a.m.
Large crowds expected for Sunday’s regional Memorial Day Weekend celebration “One Nation under God” at Woodward Park  – plus the noise caused by cannons shooting blanks and aerial fireworks – are prompting organizers and Manteca Police to offer advice to attendees and neighbors to help make the event go as smoothly as possible.

The free aerial fireworks targeted to start at 8:45 p.m. at Woodward Park is expected to draw large crowds. Manteca Police remind those attending not to block driveways and that most of Woodward Avenue does not allow parking.

Police as well as Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police volunteers will help direct traffic after the show.

Animal control officers are also advising neighbors to take steps to keep their pets calm and prevent them from trying to escape yards by putting them inside during the fireworks show as well as the 21-gun salute using blanks fired from Howitzer cannon following the 6 p.m. official program.

Those attending the USO Show inside the fenced-in grassy storm retention basin at Woodward Park Sunday are advised to bring lawn chairs or blankets as there will be no seating available. They also are being advised not to bring food or drinks for security reasons. Local non-profits will have concessions available.

There will be a Soldiers’ Angels collection booth at the event.  The following items are being requested for overseas shipment: hard candies (Tootsie Roll Pops/Charms Pops), beef jerky, powder drink mix – single packets, baby wipes (preferably in plastic diaper bag sized case), sunscreen, and AT&T International phone cards.  Money will also be accepted as a donation to help with shipping costs and other items.

There will also be a flag burning ceremony, which is the proper way to dispose of tattered and torn flags.  One wishing to dispose of a worn flag in the honorable manner can bring their discarded flags to the event and turn them in at the American Legion booth at the Woodward Park event site.  

Manteca’s One Nation under God events are being heralded as the largest Memorial Day weekend commemoration this year on the West Coast.

Sunday’s Woodward Park activities feature a USO Show from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. It will feature free entertainment, a military vehicle display, free food and drinks for veterans, CHP K-9 exhibit, children’s fun center, exhibits and concessions, veteran services, Soldiers Angels collection center, aircraft fly over, special tribute to wounded warriors, a ceremony honoring veterans, marching bands, and the Moving Wall tribute to those who have died so far in the Global War on Terror.

The official program will feature speakers Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Sammy Davis who attended Manteca High for three years, Sgt. Bob Gutierrez of the famous Navajo Code Talkers who befuddled the Japanese, and Sgt. Earl Watson who is a Battle of the Bulge survivor. The Battle of the Bulge was the bloodiest battle of World War II.

Those Japanese Americans who served in the 442nd Brigade, for whom a segment of Highway 99 is named in honor of, will also be attending. They served America in the European theater during World War II despite having their families placed in internment camps.

Music will be provided by the Mi Wuk church choir and band as well as “We are Family.”

The program will end with a 21-gun salute from Howitzers.

Then at 8:45 p.m. aerial fireworks will take place over Woodward Park to “celebrate the turn of our soldiers from Iran and Afghanistan.”

Recognizing Medal of Honor recipient
The four days start off today at 11 a.m. with a ceremony honoring Manteca native and Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis. It will take place at the Manteca Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

Davis attended Manteca High through his junior year. He enlisted in the Army at age 18.

Dedication of memorial wall to Sgt. Palmer
On Memorial Day on Monday, May 25, sunrise will come to Manteca with 2,500 flags lining the streets as part of the Flags Over Manteca effort. Then at 9 a.m., the memorial wall honoring Marine Cpl. Charles Palmer II will be dedicated at the Big League Dreams sports complex plaza. Palmer was killed in Iraq while serving America.

Then at 10:30 a.m. the traditional Memorial Day service takes place at East Union Cemetery.

The day – and weekend – will end at 8 p.m. with the playing of taps and the retiring of the colors at the BLD complex.

‘Not Forgotten’ Musical-drama
The Place of Refuge, 486 Button Ave., will stage its poignant “Not Forgotten” musical drama on Saturday, May 23, at 2 and 6 p.m.
The production is a tribute to the fallen as well as those who have served America.
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